Integrated geophysical-geological-petrophysical studies of mineral systems and mineralised terrains

Exploring for new mineral deposits deep within the Earth


The mineral system concept and the need to explore for new deposits at depth and under cover has led to reconsideration of how geophysics is used in mineral exploration. Deep penetrating geophysical methods previously mainly used for academic studies are now routinely used for assessment of mineral prospectivity and for exploration. Strategies to interpret geophysical data at the scale of deposit ‘camps’ are required; filling a knowledge- and scale-gap between terrain-scale and prospect-scale exploration. The need to interpret geophysical responses where there is minimal geological control from drilling requires a better understanding of rock physical and chemical properties (petrophysics).

There is increasing evidence that passive seismic methods, the magnetotelluric method and the seismic reflection method can image mineral system components at upper crustal to mantle depths and at camp- to terrain-scales (Dentith et al., 2018a, b). Responses interpreted to be associated with fluid and metal sources zones, brine and magma flow conduits and reservoirs have been detected across a broad range of deposit styles from terrains of different ages. However, much remains to be understood regarding how best to acquire and process such data and the geological significance of the observed responses. Opportunities exist to work on new and existing datasets from Western Australia (and elsewhere) working on the world class gold, base metal and nickel mineral systems in the Archean and Proterozoic terrains in the State.

Petrophysics is a ‘hot topic’ in mineral exploration geophysics. It is clear that a better understanding of the petrophysical consequences of alteration associated with numerous mineral systems needs to better understood (Dentith & Mudge, 2014; Dentith et al., 2020). At the same time, the appearance of portable instruments capable of collecting quantitative physical, mineralogical and geochemical properties means defining quantitative relationships between physical-chemical-mineralogical characteristic of rocks is possible leading to a process. Opportunities exist to develop the next generation of geological and numerical schemes to understand the causes of the variations in rock physical properties, build a predictive capability and hence better understand the geophysical characteristics of mineral systems.

As part of this project the successful PhD applicant will:

  • Acquire, process, model and interpret geophysical and petrophysical datasets world class mineral provinces in Western Australia and elsewhere

For more background information see the suggested readings below.

Suggested readings

Research team leader - Professor Mike Dentith

I am a Professor of Geophysics at UWA and senior researcher within the Centre for Exploration Targeting (CET). I have supervised more than 40 Ph.D projects undertaken by students from all over the world. My research interests are in applied geophysics as used in exploration for natural resources. Research will be co-supervised with geologists and geochemist in the CET.


External collaborators:

  • Geological Survey of Western Australia, various mining companies

Get in touch:

  • Individuals and companies interested in collaborating with this research should contact the research leader by email.


How to apply

Interested in becoming part of this project? Complete the following steps to submit your expression of interest:

Step 1 - Check criteria

General UWA PhD entrance requirements can be found on the Future Students website.

Requirement specific to this project:

  • Students with backgrounds in geophysics, geochemistry and geology
  • Students with mathematics, computer sciences, physics and engineering will also be considered

Step 2 - Submit enquiry to research team leader

Step 3 - Lodge application

After you have discussed your project with the research team leader, you should be in a position to proceed to the next step of the UWA application process: Lodge an application. Different application procedures apply to domestic and international students.


Domestic students

All domestic students may apply for Research Training Program and University Postgraduate Awards (UPA) scholarships

International students

A range of scholarships are available from international organisations and governments. The full list, organised by country, is available on the Future Students website.

In addition, all international students may apply for International Research Training Program scholarships.

Indigenous students
Indigenous students are encouraged to apply for Indigenous Postgraduate Research Supplementary Scholarships.
Forrest Foundation scholarships
All international and Australian students who wish to study towards the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at The University of Western Australia may apply for Forrest Scholarships.